New parks spend row

Mercury (Hobart) - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID KILLICK Chief Po­lit­i­cal Re­porter

THE State Govern­ment has been ac­cused of spend­ing $1.8 mil­lion of tax­pay­ers’ money up­grad­ing an­other na­tional parks site to pave the way for a pri­vate de­vel­op­ment. Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor raised ques­tions at a hear­ing yes­ter­day about a plan to build com­mer­cial ac­com­mo­da­tion on Maria Is­land.

THE State Govern­ment has spent $1.8 mil­lion of tax­pay­ers’ money up­grad­ing an­other na­tional parks site to pave the way for a pri­vate de­vel­op­ment, the Greens have said.

Party leader Cassy O’Connor raised ques­tions about a plan to build com­mer­cial ac­com­mo­da­tion at Dar­ling­ton on Maria Is­land in par­lia­men­tary hear­ings yes­ter­day.

A pro­posal for the “sen­si­tive re­build­ing of the his­toric Ad­kins House as an overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion base for guests” is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion as part of the Govern­ment's Ex­pres­sions of In­ter­est process.

Ms O’Connor said the Govern­ment had al­lo­cated $1.8 mil­lion in the 2017-18 state bud­get to the “restora­tion … of the Dar­ling­ton site and to pro­vide sub­stan­tial im­prove­ment to the vis­i­tor ser­vices”.

“This smells very much like the al­lo­ca­tion of public mon­eys to en­able a pri­vate com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment in the World Her­itage con­vict site, not un­like the de­ci­sion to up­grade the road and carpark prior to an­nounc­ing a pri­vate de­vel­op­ment at the Bruny Light­house,” Ms O’Connor said.

The Mer­cury last month re­vealed the Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice spent $327,000 on a new ar­chi­tect-de­signed toi­let block at the his­toric Su­per­in­ten­dent’s Cot­tage and fenced, painted and reroofed the build­ing at Cape Bruny be­tween

May and June this year as se­cret ne­go­ti­a­tions were un­der way on a pri­vate op­er­a­tor’s pro­posal for the site.

En­vi­ron­ment, Parks and Her­itage Min­is­ter Peter Gutwein de­nied any link be­tween the rise in govern­ment spend­ing and the pro­pos­als for pri­vate de­vel­op­ments at ei­ther site.

He ac­cused the Greens of be­ing anti-jobs.

“The Govern­ment is not go­ing to apol­o­gise for in­vest­ing funds into restor­ing and pro­tect­ing our public as­sets and built her­itage, es­pe­cially World Her­itage con­vict sites like Dar­ling­ton.”

Dar­ling­ton is recorded as a World Her­itage Area as part of the Aus­tralian Con­vict Sites list­ing and is re­garded as “the most rep­re­sen­ta­tive and in­tact ex­am­ple of a pro­ba­tion station in Aus­tralia”.

Its cur­rent man­age­ment plan seems to rule out pri­vate de­vel­op­ments.

“Be­cause of its in­her­ent val­ues and con­se­quent at­trac­tion to key vis­i­tor mar­ket seg­ments, Dar­ling­ton does not need in­vented at­trac­tions,” the plan says.

“Ad hoc, in­cre­men­tal de­vel­op­ment de­ci­sions could also threaten Dar­ling­ton Zone val­ues.

“In­ap­pro­pri­ate or in­ad­e­quate fa­cil­i­ties for both day and overnight vis­i­tors could de­tract from the recre­ational set­tings for vis­i­tors.”

The man­age­ment plan is cur­rently un­der re­view by Parks.

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